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Previous posting in this Debunking Series.

In this post we will look at the last three types of engines. Can these engine technologies be debunked?

Start with the boring stuff. Nuclear/plasma engines. For more information look up Franklin Chang-Diaz’s Variable Specific Impulse Magnetoplasma Rocket (VASIMR). Real. Cannot be debunked.

Now for the more interesting stuff. The second is Pulse Detonation Engines (PDE). This type of engine uses detonation waves to combust fuel and oxidizer mixture. “The engine is pulsed because the mixture must be renewed in the combustion chamber between each detonation wave initiated by an ignition source.” Theoretically this type of engine is capable of speeds from subsonic to Mach 5.

Here is an UT Arlington Feb 2008 YouTube video that shows how elegantly simple, a workable engineering concept is. According to the posting this engine was built and tested in 2005.

Here is a link to Mojave Skies blog posting which shows photographs of an Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) subsonic pulsed detonation engine trials (about May 2008), made from off-the-shelf automotive parts. Impressive!

Some history regarding the Mojave Skies blog posting. Scaled Composites is led by Burt Rutan, whose team won the Ansari X-Prize in 2004. Scaled Composites is now owned by Northrup Grumman a defense contractor. What a small world. Everyone is interconnected to everyone else.

What about supersonic trials?

Here is a link to Military, Aviation & Space forum where the jet plumes appeared to be pulsed. The date of this posting is Feb 2008, while the AFRL’s press release is dated May 2008. Here is the AboveTopSecret’s link to a Jun 2008 discussion about what appears to be PDE aircrafts in action. The writers appear to be experienced and leaning toward the PDE aircrafts in the video being real.

My guess is that conventional fuel pulse detonation engines are a reality in experimental supersonic aircrafts, and that the May 2008 AFRL’s press release is about making PDEs cheaper. These engines are real and cannot be debunked.

Now for the third type of engine technology, atomic bomb or nuclear pulse engines. It is quite obvious from the Medusa design that the nuclear energy released by such a device that is used to propel this starship is only 1/6th of the useful energy. Note, useful energy is less than total energy released. Therefore this is an inefficient design.

Further, as the Wikipedia article on nuclear pulse engines points out, there is the Partial Test Ban Treaty that makes such engines illegal. Debunked.

Therefore, nuclear or atomic bomb pulsed engines are debunked, and people who support such ideas are out of touch with reality. Let me quote Billy Currington “God is great, beer is good, people are crazy”.


Benjamin T Solomon is the author & principal investigator of the 12-year study into the theoretical & technological feasibility of gravitation modification, titled An Introduction to Gravity Modification, to achieve interstellar travel in our lifetimes. For more information visit iSETI LLC, Interstellar Space Exploration Technology Initiative.

Solomon is inviting all serious participants to his LinkedIn Group Interstellar Travel & Gravity Modification.

Technology is as Human Does

When one of the U.S. Air Force’s top future strategy guys starts dorking out on how we’ve gotta at least begin considering what to do when a progressively decaying yet apocalyptically belligerent sun begins BBQing the earth, attention is payed. See, none of the proposed solutions involve marinade or species-level acquiescence, they involve practical discussion on the necessity for super awesome technology on par with a Kardeshev Type II civilization (one that’s harnessed the energy of an entire solar system).

Because Not if, but WHEN the Earth Dies, What’s Next for Us?
Head over to Kurzweil AI and have a read of Lt. Col. Peter Garretson’s guest piece. There’s perpetuation of the species stuff, singularity stuff, transhumanism stuff, space stuff, Mind Children stuff, and plenty else to occupy those of us with borderline pathological tech obsessions.


Greetings to the Lifeboat Foundation community and blog readers! I’m Reno J. Tibke, creator of and new advisory board member. This is my inaugural post, and I’m honored to be here and grateful for the opportunity to contribute a somewhat… different voice to technology coverage and commentary. Thanks for reading.

This Here Battle Droid’s Gone Haywire
There’s a new semi-indy sci-fi web series up: DR0NE. After one episode, it’s looking pretty clear that the series is most likely going to explore shenanigans that invariably crop up when we start using semi-autonomous drones/robots to do some serious destruction & murdering. Episode 1 is pretty and well made, and stars 237, the android pictured above looking a lot like Abe Sapien’s battle exoskeleton. Active duty drones here in realityland are not yet humanoid, but now that militaries, law enforcement, the USDA, private companies, and even citizens are seriously ramping up drone usage by land, air, and sea, the subject is timely and watching this fiction is totally recommended.

(Update: DR0NE, Episode 2 now available)

It would be nice to hope for some originality, and while DR0NE is visually and means-of-productionally and distributionally novel, it’s looking like yet another angle on a psychology & set of issues that fiction has thoroughly drilled — like, for centuries.

Higher-Def Old Hat?
Okay, so the modern versions go like this: one day an android or otherwise humanlike machine is damaged or reprogrammed or traumatized or touched by Jesus or whatever, and it miraculously “wakes up,” or its neural network remembers a previous life, or what have you. Generally the machine becomes severely bi-polar about its place in the universe; while it often struggles with the guilt of all the murderdeathkilling it did at others’ behest, it simultaneously develops some serious self-preservation instinct and has little compunction about laying waste to its pursuers, i.e., former teammates & commanders who’d done the behesting.

Admittedly, DR0NE’s episode 2 has yet to be released, but it’s not too hard to see where this is going; the trailer shows 237 delivering some vegetablizing kung-fu to it’s human pursuers, and dude, come on — if a human is punched in the head hard enough to throw them across a room and into a wall or is uppercut into a spasticating backflip, they’re probably just going to embolize and die where they land. Clearly 237 already has the stereotypical post-revelatory per-the-plot justifiable body count.

Where have we seen this pattern before? Without Googling, from the top of one robot dork’s head, we’ve got: Archetype, Robocop, iRobot (film), Iron Giant, Short Circuit, Blade Runner, Rossum’s Universal Robots, and going way, way, way back, the golem.

Show Me More Me
Seems we really, really dig on this kind of story. Continue reading “The Recurring Parable of the AWOL Android” | >